tv Smerconish CNN October 18, 2014 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
as chief longo said, it was a chesterfield county sheriff's office search team today that located the human remains along old lynchburg road. as soon as the discovery was made, the albemarle county police department, charlottesville city police department responded to the scene to begin the investigative process of preserving evidence and evidence collection. the remains will be taken to the office of the chief medical examiner in richmond for examination, autopsy and official identification. investigators have spent the greater part of this afternoon canvassing the property where the remains were found. this, sadly, is now a death investigation. and therefore, we will not be releasing any additional details concerning specifics on the scene or evidence found at the scene. because the remains were located in albemarle county, our agency
is now -- is the lead on death investigation portion of this case. as we have since the very beginning, we will continue to work closely with our charlottesville partners and virginia state police partners. as we have been doing since the beginning. virginia state police bureau criminal investigations field office continues to be heavily involved in this case. and has also been from the very beginning, to remind everyone they are also the lead agency on the morgan harrington investigation. we would ask anyone who lives in the area of old lynchburg road or is familiar with that area and recalls seeing any suspicious activity or vehicles following hannah's disappearance on september 13th, or seeing an individual fitting jesse matthew's description in that area about that time to please contact the albemarle county police department. today's discovery is a
significant development. and we have a great deal of work ahead of us. we cannot and we will not jump to any conclusions regarding today's discovery, so i ask for the public's patience as we move forward and pursue what is now a new ongoing death investigation. thank you very much. >> charlottesville, virginia, given by the charlottesville, virginia, police chief, timothy longo. the announcement there, apparent human remains as described by the charlottesville police chief were found in the search for hannah graham. they were found in south albemarle county in an abandoned property. to be clear, police have not confirmed the identity of these remains, so no direct connection to hannah graham at this point. but found in an area where for
the 35 days that she has been missing, investigators, along with civilian volunteers, have been searching for any sign of her. and, again today what the police are calling a significant development in this investigation. these apparently human remains found. and as the albemarle county police chief, colonel steve sellers said, sadly now this is a death investigation. but, again, i want to confirm that the i.d. has not been confirmed that these remains do indeed belong to hannah graham. i want to bring in now tom fuentes, former assistant director of the fbi. he's now cnn legal analyst. tom, again, you personally have been involved, sadly, in cases like this. and this is a very sad case, a very somber announcement by the police who have been involved in this search from the beginning for more than a month now. what's your takeaway from this press conference? >> reporter: well, i think that in the minds of the police, they're pretty certain that it's hannah graham. i mean, they're all but saying so. they're going to officially
confirm that, obviously, at the medical examiner's office. and after the official autopsy. but the fact that they were in contact with the parents and would have additional information to lend an identification or at least a preliminary identification, it sounds to me like they're pretty sure this is it. especially when they're thanking the searchers and calling off any further search. you know, unfortunately, there have been other young ladies that have been abducted and have gone missing in the charlottesville area. so, you know, even though you would find one person's remains, it doesn't mean that all of the others are accounted for. including hannah graham. so to me it says they're pretty certain it's hannah graham. >> even chief timothy longo talked about the difficult phone call he made to hannah graham's parents today after the discovery. i want to bring in now coy barefoot, investigative reporter. you've been covering the story
from the very beginning. what's your reaction to the news today? >> we are exactly five weeks since hannah graham went missing here in charlottesville. and law enforcement confirms to me this afternoon that a decomposed body was found about ten miles south of town. this is in the red hill north garden part of albemarle county. and interestingly, it's about five miles from where morgan harrington's remains were found in january of 2010. this is a very heavily wooded area of albemarle county. again, just about 10 or 11 miles south of town. and we have confirmed now with chief longo and colonel sellers with the albemarle county police department that a body was indeed found. it will go to richmond to the chief medical examiner's office. forensic tests have to be done. law enforcement on the scene tell me they believe that this is indeed hannah graham. but, of course, the forensic
tests have to be done. i can tell you here in charlottesville, it is such a mix of emotions. you know, you want to cry and at the same moment, you want to celebrate that hanna has hopefully been found. i also have another source that tells me this morning that they saw chief longo with hanna's father, john graham, down on old lynchburg road, near walnut creek park, a 525-acre park, 15 miles of trails. and they believe this location where the decomposed body was found is right near that park on an abandoned property on old lynchburg road. jim? >> coy, as a parent, i think all of us can feel and only imagine the pain that the family is going through right now. and you mentioned as well the possible closure here. again, if the i.d. is confirmed. and i just want to remind my viewers, because you brought it up. there was a second young woman who went missing in 2009, morgan
harrington, and there is a dna tie between her case and a suspect in the case, the missing -- the disappearance of hannah graham, jesse matthew, who has in fact been charged with abduction in the case, though not murder. how does this new information -- does it draw a clearer line in your view, coy, back to jesse matthew? >> i'll tell you, jim. the thing i think about, we know for a fact that the state police have confirmed that jesse matthew is linked in -- there is a forensic link between jesse matthew, who was arrested and charged with the abduction of hannah graham, and the case of morgan harrington. morgan harrington went missing five years ago yesterday. here in charlottesville. and her remains were found about five miles from where they say they have possibly found the remains of hannah graham. i can confirm that jesse matthew grew up in this part of albemarle county. that his mother lived right
near -- just off old lynchburg road, right where the remains of hannah graham were found, interestingly enough. and that when he got a license to drive a cab a few years ago, that his business license was actually down in this part of the county. he used his mother's address. so we know for a fact that he was very familiar -- for what it's worth, he was very familiar with this part of the county. and grew up there. >> that's incredible detail there. again, to remind our viewers, it was on an abandoned property off old lynchburg road in south albemarle county where these apparent human remains were found. incredible detail from coy there, where jesse matthew, a suspect in the case, that's where his mother lived. i wonder, are there questions in the community there, and you live there, you work there, you've been covering this case for some time. about how well the police handled the initial investigation? because this is not the first young woman to go missing in and around uva. are there questions about why he
wasn't caught earlier, before he could do this again? >> jim, i think we all here in charlottesville have a great many questions about what has been happening here. we have a number of young women who have gone missing over the last few years. morgan, alexis, sage, samantha, bonnie, janet -- i could go on. so certainly, yes, we have a lot of questions. but right now i believe the public is -- feels very confident about what we have witnessed here over the last few weeks in terms of the performance of law enforcement, the virginia department of emergency management, chief longo confirming here today. his thanks to mark eggerman and his team. mark is the state coordinator for the virginia department of emergency management, search and rescue team. he has been out here since day one, leading this search with hundreds of volunteers in law enforcement agencies from across virginia who have been here,
living in our community, and going out every day, walking the woods and the trails and the creeks and the rivers, up and down these hills, every day, all day, until sunset, looking for any sign of hannah graham. and as we learned today, the news breaking this afternoon, it looks like that effort has paid off and we have found the remains of hannah graham here in albemarle county. >> it's been a real community effort, no question. i don't want to get ahead of ours here, because while there are ties between the suspect, jesse matthew, and missing hannah graham, as well as that 2009 case, missing morgan harrington, a dna tie in that case. you rattled off half a dozen other names of missing young women. is there any evidence linking those additional cases together in terms of the way -- who disappeared, how they disappeared, how they were killed, et cetera? has anyone been connecting those dots to think there is one serial killer responsible for this?
>> jim, that is certainly a question that we are asking here in charlottesville. and, of course, you have to collect the dots before you can connect the dodts. and that's what's going on now. we do know, and state police have confirmed, that there is a dna link between morgan's case in 2009 and a rape and beating on september 24th, 2005, in fairfax. we know for a fact that those two cases are linked. so if it turns out that jesse matthew, that that is his dna that was found on morgan's shirt, then we know for a fact we can connect those dots, because those dots have already been connected. as for alexis or samantha, or other cases largely unexplained in central virginia, that is a line of investigation that i'm sure the police are pursuing as we speak. >> so many families still waiting for the closure, if you can call it that, that perhaps hannah graham's family found today. perhaps nothing worse than that, just not knowing what would
happen to your daughter. i want to thank coy barefoot for joining us, an investigative reporter, following this case from the very beginning. i want to bring in our own jean casarez at cnn, also covering this case. as you watch the developments today, the police did, as tom fuentes said, did everything but say these were most likely hannah graham's remains. but that's not a step we can take, because i.d. has not been confirmed. how long does that process take? >> i couldn't quite hear what you were saying, but let me tell you my observations from everything i'm hearing. as an attorney, i really focus on and think about forensic evidence right now. because this is a huge day, because a missing persons case has it turned into a death investigation. a death investigation will need to turn into a murder investigation. but that is dependent upon
forensic evidence, ties to a perpetrator. i realize when this press conference started, they found the remains in an abandoned structure that. could be very good for the preservation of evidence, because inside a structure means more can be preserved. and to be very blunt, animals may not as likely have been able to get into an abandoned structure. because when you just have remains, skeletal remains, you cannot find perpetrator dna. and that was told to me by the department of forensic science there in virginia. because my question was, morgan harrington. her skeletal remains were found, but yet they found unknown perpetrator dna. it must have been from her clothing. now in the hannah graham case, they need to find dna. dna of who did this to her. and that dna could be preserved on hannah or on her clothes.
remember, none of her items have been found. her clothes have not been found, her cell phone has not been found, nothing has been found. and they called hannah graham's parents so quickly, according to that press conference. there must have been visual observation that they believed that it was hannah graham. >> that's right. you don't make that difficult phone call as the police chief timothy longo mentioned to the parents, made after this discovery. you don't make that without some sense of what you were finding. jean casarez, please stay with us. we're going to stay with this story, a somber story, really. word that apparent human remains have been found in the case of the missing uva student, hannah graham. 18 years old, she disappeared 35 days ago. an important discovery today. we'll be back with more on this story right after this break. ♪ the design of the ford escape
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development in the somber case of the missing uva student, hannah graham. news just a short time ago carried live on cnn, that apparent human remains have been discovered in an abandoned property in south albemarle county, near the uva campus where they have been searching for the 35 days since she disappeared. apparent human remains, i.d. not confirmed at this point. but clearly, they have some evidence tying it to this case. the police chief involved saying they made a difficult call to the parents of hannah graham after this discovery. and as well as the police chief of albemarle county, talking about how this has become a death investigation. but a major development in the case that we have been following some time and very sad news today, possibly for her family. i want to bring in a number of people joining us, including fbi former assistant fbi director, tom fuentes, also coy barefoot, a reporter in charlottesville, also a professor at the university of virginia, covering this case from the beginning. i wonder if we can talk just
briefly, coy, about the suspect in this case. and that is jesse matthew. he has been charge the with abduction in the case of hannah graham. there was a dna tie to another missing woman from 2009, morgan harrington between her and matthew. and he was also charged with rape back in 2003 when he was a student at liberty university. describe for our viewers the mounting evidence against him as being behind the disappearance, not of one woman, but possibly more than one. >> let me just take a quick moment here to get us all on the same page. jesse matthew grew up in the charlottesville area. he is a 2000 graduate of monticel monticello high school, located about two miles from thomas jefferson's monticello, for which the school is named. he played football there, he was a state wrestling champ, very popular student. he then went on to liberty
university and played football there as well. he left liberty university after being named and investigated in a sexual assault and rape on a fellow student. there were no charges that were officially filed, but liberty has confirmed that he was the suspect that had been identified by the victim. jesse then went to christopher newport university, hampton roads, virginia. and he was only there for a few months when the same thing happened. he was named, identified and investigated in another sexual assault against a fellow student, a rape there against a young woman. she named him, identified him, but in that case as well, no charges were filed. he then came home to charlottesville, worked for a while as a cab driver, and his most recent employment has been as a patient care technician at the university of virginia hospital. the pcts are responsible for
setting up and breaking down the main operating room. he has been charged with the abduction of hannah graham. hannah was last seen five weeks ago today in downtown charlottesville, and i spoke with an eyewitness who was the last person to remember seeing hannah, and this woman told me that she saw hannah under the arm of jesse matthew. and they were walking downtown. he is the last person seen with her. and police have charged her with that abduction. the state police have confirmed as well that jesse is linked -- there is a forensic link which links him to the case of morgan harrington. morgan was last seen in charlottesville five years ago yesterday. and her remains were found 100 days later. now the state police have yet to say that it's his dna. we picked out a stop and recognized here, it could be
morgan's dna that was found on an object he had. we just don't know. but speculation is the fact that it's his dna. and that's important, because if it is his dna, well then we know he's linked to another rape and beating in northern virginia in 2005. because the police have already linked morgan's case with that case four years before. so you are right to say that we are looking at mounting evidence -- the police are connecting a number of dots here, and right now they're collecting more dots than they're connecting. and we continue to learn more. and my law enforcement sources are telling me here in charlottesville that we can only expect this case to get bigger as time goes on. >> coy, you're right. this is evidence, it is far from a conviction. it is far from a final answer, and just emphasize -- i want to emphasize the word "suspect" when we bring up jesse matthew for his involvement in this case. but we do know that he has been charged with abducting hannah
graham. what happened after that, it has not been established that he's responsible for it. but there certainly are worrisome signs in his past, accused of rapes, possible ties to other missing women in the area. and something coy, you reminded us of a short time ago that a number of young women have gone missing in and around uva in the past several years. and i asked you and i just ask again for viewers just joining us now, have there been any signs, any evidence that a single assailant has been responsible for all those missing girls? >> the answer to that question at this moment, jim, is no. we do know that police are -- and this is confirmed -- that investigators are currently looking to see if there is any link between jesse matthew and the case of alexis murphy. alexis was last seen on august 3rd, 2013, in lovingston, virginia, which is just south of charlottesville. and there was a lot of forensic
evidence that was found nearby in a camper that was owned by randy allen taylor. they found alexis' phone, her blood, an eyelash, part of an earring, they found a hair that forensic experts had said looked like it had been yanked from her scalp. and they found that hair on randy allen taylor's pillow. now randy allen taylor is in jail for the rest of his life. he was convicted on two life terms for abducting and for killing alexis murphy. here's what police are looking at now. what are the links between jesse matthew and randy allen taylor? what are the possible links between jesse matthew and alexis murphy? i can tell you that i am pursuing a number of leads, and i believe at this time, and this hasn't yet been reported, but i believe they knew each other, based on what i'm learning. i believe that alexis knew jesse. for what it's worth -- it's just worth pointing out here. but we do know that
investigators are pursuing any possible connections that mr. matthew may have with a number of missing young women in central virginia, and beyond. i mean, his dna is now in a database, and they are running that against other known instances throughout -- up and down the east coast to see if there is any obviously link between dna and other unsolved cases that may be out there. >> coy barefoot, thanks very much for joining us. we're going to come back after a short break. we have a number of voices to get to now, including cnn's legal analysts and investigative analyst, tom fuentes, and jean casarez, our own correspondent, following this. please stay with us. somber developments today in the case of the missing uva student, hannah graham. we're going to have more on this story, right after this break. at t-mobile,
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welcome back. i'm jim sciutto in new york. we have been following new developments, sad developments, in the case of the missing uva student, 18-year-old hannah graham, just a short time ago, charlottesville, virginia, police chief, timothy longo, confirmed that police did find aapparent human remains tied to the investigation. he gave limited details beyond that. here's what he had to say. >> it was some 35 days ago, some
five weeks, sips 18-year-old university of virtue verify virginia student, hannah graham, disappeared from our downtown pedestrian mall. since that time, the charlottesville police department, in cooperation with the county of albemarle and jurisdictions throughout the commonwealth of virginia engaged in an unprecedented search in an effort to find her and return her to her family. countless hours, thousands of hours, have been spent by literally hundreds of law enforcement and civilian volunteers in an effort to find hannah. we think perhaps today proved their worth. some time before noon today, a search team from the chesserfield county sheriff's department was searching abandoned property along old lynchburg road in southern albemarle county when they discovered what appears to be human remains.
now, fairly shortly after that discovery, at a time that was most appropriate, detective sergeant james mooney of the charlottesville police department made a very difficult phone call. and reached out to john and susan graham, to share with them this preliminary discovery. again, these are human remains, and forensic tests need to be conducted to determine the identification of those remains, but nonetheless, we want it to be quick and timely to share that information. with the graham family. now, as colonel sellers will point out in a moment, this investigation is complicated. it's a complex criminal investigation, and unlikely we'll have any information in the very near future and perhaps days to come that we'll be able to share with you about what we learned today. and what we'll likely learn in
the days to come. but again, we know you'll be patient, we know you'll be respectful, because there will time a time we'll be able to tell you more. but that's not today. you can hear some of the emotion that's characterized this case in the charlottesville community in the voice there of police chief, timothy longo, as he made that announcement, and then describing the difficult phone call to hannah graham's parents, john and susan a short time afterwards. as a parent myself, i can only imagine how difficult a day this is. we've got a team of cnn legal investigative experts to talk about this case, and what happens next. we're going to have those conversations right after this break. please stay with us. [ female announcer ] you get sick, you can't breathe through your nose...
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you'll never know unless you go. i did it. you can too. ♪ welcome back. i'm jim sciutto in new york. we continue to follow developments just a short time ago that human remains, apparent human remains, have been found in the search for the missing uva student, hannah graham. she went missing 35 days ago until today. no word of where she had gone, what happened to her. but now a sign, perhaps, that this case has come to a conclusion. we're joined now by cnn law enforcement analyst and former assistant fbi director, tom fuentes. cnn legal analyst, criminal defense attorney, danny cevallos. mel robbins and on the phone, cnn correspondent, jean casarez, she has been following this case herself for some time. danny, i wonder if i could begin with you. this has been a difficult case from the beginning, because you
have this odd cart before the horse situation, where you have jesse matthew, a suspect charged with abduction in the case of hannah graham. before even a body was found and no answer as to what happened to her. where does this stand legally now? how much of a step forward is it now that human remains have been found? >> there's a common misconception that you need a body to prosecute for murder. that's actually not true. the corpus dilecti rule just means that the prosecution has to prove that a crime has occurred. now practically speaking, finding a body is always incredibly helpful, because of the treasure trove of evidence it yields. not just dna. but items you may find, fiber, hair, so while the prosecution and law enforcement does not need a body to charge a defendant and eventually convict for murder, since there's no statute of limitations, it's not particularly surprising that they would charge on a lesser
crime and wait to charge on the murder until and unless they find a body that is hannah graham. because remember, if they charge too early, any number of stop watches go off. you have to charge and try or try a defendant within a particular amount of time. you don't need to charge for murder. there is no statute of limitations. but once you do, the clock is ticking. so this is standard textbook waiting until you hopefully find a body, and if they have, it will, in all likelihood, yield just voluminous evidence. >> no question. and you make a great point there. and to be clear, no charges have been made. charges for abduction, not charges for murder. and, in fact, no hard i.d. has been made on these apparent human remains, that they are, in fact, hannah graham. but i wonder if i can ask you, tom fuentes. they have not i.d.ed human remains positively, but yet you have the police chief investigating this case from the
beginning go out on national television and announce developments related to this case, human remains possibly tied. what would give him the confidence to say it in effect without saying it? is it likely they found something else at the scene that connected those human remains to the missing girl? >> that's possible, jim. but the problem here is to talk about this without being too gruesome. we're used to television, where crime scenes are sanitized to a great degree, and in this situation this is the gruesome part of a death investigation of a potential murder investigation of what they found, what condition the body was in, what indications gave -- were given to the police that it was her. the contact with the parents, what would go on next. you know, when we don't know the condition of the body, we don't know if the parents would be able to make an identification or whether it would have to be through dental records, and maybe they're trying to locate her dentist right now.
you know, all types of measures are being taken investigatively, and some of them are just not really well to discuss here. >> right. understood. they are -- it is sad to think of a detail like that, contacting the family dentist for the possibility of using dental records to identify the body. mel, i wonder if i can ask you. you followed this case, as well, long experience with investigations like this. here you have a suspect, and, again, i want to emphasize, this is a suspect in the abduction of hannah graham, not yet in a murder, because they don't know that a murder has taken place, but with a history here. a possible tie to another missing girl a number of years ago. a possible tie to accusations of rape when he was a college student. and you have a number of missing girls who have gone missing in this area over the past several years. when you look at a case like this, does it strike you that warning signs were missed here? is there something that wasn't done before that could have prevented this from happening?
>> well, a couple things i want to say. first of all, it's not even that he was potentially linked. he was absolutely accused of sexually assaulting two of his classmates. one was 12 years ago, the other 11 years ago. and his dna has been lyninked t the assault and rape of another woman in 2005. and so what you're talking about is a guy who clearly got worse over time. were there signs that were missed? absolutely. but here's the problem. we don't have a national database for missed signs. we have a national database for dna, and they're certainly going to run his through it. but unless the police departments are all linked up, jim, there is no way that somebody that's doing an investigation hears about what happened when it was never even prosecuted fully. this is a case, i agree, one of you said this is just going to get bigger. i can't agree with that more. >> but it is remarkable here in
that you have someone who is from the community, jesse matthew, apparently where these human remains were found, what was on the road or down the road from where his mother's house was when he was growing up. and someone who lived there, he worked there, worked in a hospital, he was a taxi driver. how rare is it, i wonder, and jean casarez, cnn correspondent, you've been covering this case, in had cases like this to have someone strike like this, possiblily repeatedly, in their own community. >> okay, all right. we are getting into bumper to bumper traffic coming into new york city for saturday night. >> sorry, jean. do you hear jim sciutto? >> yes. >> jim, i'd like to answer that. >> let me -- jean, i'm going to come back to you in a moment. mel, let me ask you, because -- you've dealt with cases like this before, to have someone -- and, again, i want to emphasize, this is a suspect. no one has been convicted here. but there are a lot of signs of repetitive behavior in his own neighborhood.
and these remains found today down the street from where his mother used to live. how common is it for someone like this, assuming he is found to be the perpetrator, to carry out attacks like this in their own neighborhood or close to their home, close to where they grew up? >> i'm sure danny and tom will agree with me, first of all, they probably weren't surprised when they heard he grew up in this area, that his mother lived just off the street where they found this body. it indicates to us that he's very familiar and comfortable. and this guy has been attacking women in increasingly more aggressive and dangerous ways. and killing them, even, allegedly. then he's getting more and more comfortable doing it. and it doesn't surprise me, jim, that he's hiding right out in the open. and that he's doing it in an area that he is intimately familiar in, and if you notice, everybody that talks about him says, hey, he was a really nice guy. he was a big loveable teddy bear. and yet there's this jekyll and
hyde thing going on that you see in a lot of serial cases. but one more thing. remember the cleveland house of horrors? that was going on, and none of the neighbors knew about it. so i don't think it's that surprising, jim. >> yeah, it's sad, alarming. mel, danny, tom, please stay with me. we're going to take a short break and when we come back, continue to cover developments in this case. if you don't think beat con mewhen you think aarp, you don't know "aarp." the aarp fraud watch network helps everyone protect themselves and their families against scams and identity theft. find more real possibilities at aarp.org/possibilities.
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welcome back. i'm jim sciutto in new york. we continue to follow the sad, somber developments in the cease missing uva student, hannah graham. news today that apparent human remains tied to the case discovered in an abandoned property. i'm joined by tom fuentes, danny cevallos and mel robbins. dan, because we have a suspect here, jesse matthew, and emphasize suspect, though he has been charged with the abduction of hannah graham, because you have a suspect here who has possible ties to other cases of missing women, how different are the charges, if we get to that stage, between murder and serial murder? >> well, practically speaking, i mean, first degree murder is first degree murder. and no matter what state you're in, you're looking at the highest levels of penalties, whether it be mandatory life or the death penalty. but from a sociological perspective, serial killings
have been studied really quite a bit over the last century or so. and a remarkable number of similarities emerge once you start looking at the data. but in terms of whether or not he is guilty of prior crimes, prior killings, ultimately, whether -- just based on what we know right now, i think we're probably going to be looking at if this is hannah graham and if this suspect can be tied to it. i mean, this is -- looks like a clear first degree murder charge. the serial killing element is certainly something we can talk about from a sociological perspective, but if he killed by torture, by ambush, any of the statutory enhancements, he's going to be charged with first degree murder, the highest level of killing that we have. >> danny cevallos, tom fuentes, mel robbins, stay there. we're going to take a short break. when we come back, we'll continue to talk about these alarming developments in the case of the missing uva student, hannah graham. please stay with us. people with type 2 diabetes
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welcome back. cnn continues to follow that apparent human remains have been found in the search for the missing uva student, hannah graham. she is 18 years old, disappeared 35 days ago today. her family waiting for news. and today may have gotten the news they were dreading. i'm joined again now by tom fuentes, danny cevallos and mel
robbins. tom, i wonder if i can ask you, the police all but said these remains were hannah graham's, without saying it, pending identification. what would give them the confidence to make such an announcement? is it like they they found something else at the scene that was perhaps identified by family members to tie these remains to hannah graham? >> that could be, jim. i mean, they knew the clothing she had when she left that night. they had the video from her apartment. you know, other -- maybe her cell phone, jewelry, purse, other items that might have been found with her. we don't know the degree of decomposition. there could be a number of indications that led them to think this is probably her. >> right. although just to warn our viewers, they still have many steps to go to formally identify those remains. please, tom fuentes, danny
i'm jim sciutto in new york. cnn following the sad developments in the case of the missing uva student, hannah graham. we learned a little more than an hour ago, police in charlottesville, virginia, announcing they had found apparent human remains near to the campus in an area they had been searching for days now. 35 days since the 18-year-old student disappeared. those remains possibly tied to her disappearance, and the police, in fact, describing a difficult phone call they made to the parents soon after that discovery. i'm joined again by tom fuentes, danny cevallos, as well as mel
robbi robbins. mel, your experience with cases like this. you look at this, and how far along do you think this brings the investigation and discovery of human remains in a case where they really haven't had much to go on, except the disappearance of a young girl? >> jim, this is an enormous tipping point in this case. but i want to caution everybody, and remind you, we've gone from a missing person to a death discovery, and now into once we identify this is, in fact, hannah graham's remains, a murder investigation. and i cannot underscore enough how important it's going to be for the investigators and for the prosecutors to now not only connect the dots, but collect them, jim. >> and that's what they have to do now. we don't want to get ahead of where the investigation stands. there is a suspect, and there is, in fact, someone who has been charged in her abduction. and that is jesse matthew. that does not mean legally, though, danny cevallos, if you can just remind our viewers, that person is necessarily a
suspect in the murder, but now you, of course, bring the murder investigation a step forward because you have that all-important piece of evidence, the possibility of a body. >> yes. but wait a minute. when it comes to finding a body. because look at the casey anthony case as a cautionary tale. that was originally charged as a bodiless murder, which, as we have spoken about, you can be charged with a murder without finding the body, and convicted. now, when they ultimately found the body in the anthony case, that body yielded evidence, but it also yielded evidence that led to a not guilty verdict. so the point is, sometimes -- often a body is a treasure trove of information and evidence. but it may also yield con founding type evidence, something that a defense attorney can use down the road to point at another suspect. or it may actually implicate another suspect. or there may be fibers from somewhere or somebody else. so while a body gives us a lot
of evidence, that evidence can go both ways. >> no question. very early in this investigation. thanks very much, danny cevallos, tom fuentes and mel robbins. our breaking coverage of this story continues right now. you are in the "cnn newsroom," and i'm jim sciutto in new york. sad, sobering developments to report today in the case of hannah graham. she is the 18-year-old university of virginia student who disappeared in the early morning hours of september 13th, 35 days ago. a little over an hour ago, police announced that human remains were found earlier today outside of charlottesville, virginia. and while those remains have not yet been identified, they're now classifying the hannah graham case as a death investigation. >> it was some 35 days ago, some five weeks, since 18-year-old university of virginia student hannah graham disappeared from our downtown pedestrian mall.